I haven't written much about poker lately. I don't feel particularly qualified to write about my "strategies for winning," since I am still learning and I know there are lots more knowledgeable and skilled poker bloggers out there than I am. I don't know how interesting posts about specific hands or games are, although I've read some accounts on other blogs that have been entertaining. But because I don't want to let this blog go too long without an update, I'll ramble a bit about this and that.
Today I played in two NLHE SNGs in a row. The first was a $1.50 + 0.25, the second was a $5 + 0.50, both 18 players to start. I was doing OK in the first one for a while, and made the final table, but lost a couple of hands and finally pushed with JJ when my M fell below 5. I got called by AKo, who rivered an Ace to knock me out in sixth place. I did better in the second one, thanks to a good run of cards and some tight-weak players that I was able to steal a number of blinds from. I finished that one in first place, which was a very nice feeling since I hadn't won a tourney in several weeks - not since the live tourney where I won the Vegas trip (which I haven't taken yet, in case you were wondering). Plus, I am now officially in the black for tourney play for 2006, which is an even better feeling. I tend to stay in the black in my micro-limit cash game play, but my tourney play hasn't been as successful until recently. I finished sixth in a WWdN tourney earlier week, which gave me a profit of $29.95 for that night , and that was a nice boost to the bankroll (and to my poker morale). With a third-place finish in another $1.50 + 0.25 last Sunday, my total profit for this week is over $60: the second-most I have ever made in one week of on line play. I'm sure that is peanuts for some people, but it gives me a feeling of accomplishment.
A random observation: as elementary as this may seem to experienced players, I have only lately started to make note of something. If a flop full of rags appears on a given hand, the first thing I do these days is look to see if anyone limped in from the blinds. I figure there is a good chance that the players in the blinds might have lousy cards that they would have folded in other positions, but would limp in with if no one raised preflop. If the board has a lot of those crappy cards too, one or both of the blinds might have caught a good piece of it. If I see a bet or raise from the blinds in that situation, my guess is that they could have a fairly strong hand like two pair or a flush or straight draw (or made hand). If I'm in the pot and my hand is marginal, I'm more likely to fold than pay to see another card in hopes of catching something, unless the pot odds are really good.
Another observation: in the WWdN tourney this past Tuesday, I was low on chips and got pocket Queens on one hand, so I raised about 3 or 4 times the BB. SirFWALGman reraised me, and I popped him again to see what he was up to. He put me all-in, so I called, thinking I have much too good a hand to fold. If he has KK or AA, I'll have to take my lumps. He showed 72 off-suit. Now, I know the Hammer is a fun hand to play sometimes, but only under the right conditions. For me, I will only raise with it in late position when everyone has folded in front of me, and I think the odds are good that those behind me will fold. It's just too weak a hand to play after a bet or raise (or reraise) in front of me. I went on to win that hand, and Waffles was pretty badly crippled while that pot put me solidly back in the game. He made a strong comeback from that, though, and ended up finishing the tourney one place ahead of me. I was just shocked that he made that play at all.
One more note: I was playing in a Limit game a couple of days ago. I started a hand with AJo, and called preflop. An Ace hit the flop, and two undercards to the J. There were two other people in the hand betting ahead of me, and the first guy led out, the second called. I figured top pair, decent kicker is worth one more small bet, so I called too. The turn is another undercard, no pair on board. Bet, call, call. The river is a K. Immediately I think someone has paired the K and my J is no good. First guy bets, second guy calls, I fold. The first guy shows A5h; second guy mucks (must not have paired the A, or had an even worse kicker). I don't recall a heart flush draw, or even the gutshot straight draw, on the board, although there may have been one. I'm wondering, did I make a mistake by putting him on a stronger hand than I should have? Maybe I should have raised on the flop or turn to find out how strong the other kickers were. (I don't recall how much raising there may have been preflop.) I'm pretty sure I should have played that hand differently, and I'm thinking that I should have raised earlier to either drive out the others or determine if I was probably behind and should fold. But I definitely missed a nice pot by folding on the river there.
Closing bit: On-line poker is evil. It is so convenient, so easy to just sit at the computer and play, that I don't take the time to study up on how to improve my game. I start reading one of my many books on the subject, and while trying to absorb the useful information in the book I get the itch to actually play instead of just read about it. So I go fire up Poker Stars and get into a game before anything I have learned has a chance to sink in. Yes, yes, playing is one of the best ways to learn, but I need to acquire more techniques to use, and I have to take the time to learn them before I will be able to use them. If I could only play live games, in home games or card rooms, I would be forced to wait until one of those games was available, and would probably be more likely to study the masters more thoroughly until the next game. With on-line poker available anytime, the instant gratification factor gets the best of me. Discipline; I must learn discipline.